White willow bark (Salix alba) is a tree native to Europe and Asia but now widely cultivated in North America. The bark of the tree has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for pain and inflammation.
Energetically, white willow bark is considered cooling and drying. It has a bitter and astringent taste and is classified as a mild to moderate analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic (fever-reducing) herb.
The active compound in white willow bark is salicin, which is converted to salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid is a precursor to aspirin, and white willow bark has similar pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects to aspirin. It also contains other compounds such as flavonoids and tannins that have anti-inflammatory properties.
White willow bark is commonly used to alleviate pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and menstrual cramps. It may also be useful for reducing fever and relieving headaches.
However, white willow bark should be used with caution as it can cause side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus), especially when taken in large doses or for extended periods. It should not be used by individuals who are allergic to aspirin or have bleeding disorders. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies, including white willow bark.